The sense of vision in a human being does not become fully developed until their early 20s. From then on, most people find their vision and eye health generally remain stable throughout their mid-20s and 30s, with the occasional exception of women during pregnancy.
At this stage of life, it is important to establish good eye health habits for a lifetime of healthy vision. For example, people with diabetes or pre-diabetes need to have regular eye exams to make sure they don’t develop diabetic eye disease. A big part of diabetic eye-care is working with your doctors to control weight and blood sugar, as well as blood pressure and cholesterol.
Adults under the age of 40 with good eye health should have a complete exam by an ophthalmologist every five to 10 years. People at this age who wear glasses or contacts should be seen more frequently.
Between the ages of 40 and 65, our eyes can go through significant changes.
The most common change most people notice is the need to hold reading materials farther away from their eyes. Called presbyopia, nearly everyone experiences this increasing farsightedness that usually begins in their late-30s to mid-40s. Most people need reading glasses or another vision correction strategy to deal with farsightedness. If left uncorrected, this may cause headaches and eye fatigue.
Farsightedness usually starts in the early 40s and can increase with age. Even people who see well and who don’t have age-related eye diseases may have vision changes that might not be obvious. For instance, it may gradually become harder to distinguish an object from its background when they are the same color, such as result notching a white coffee cup sitting on a white table. This is called loss of “contrast sensitivity.”
For seniors, the ability to see well in different lighting may change. When going from a well-lit area to one with poor light, or vice versa, the eyes may take longer to adjust and focus, or they don’t adjust very well.
Problems adjusting to light and dark can make driving more difficult, especially at night or in the rain. Driving can be even more challenging when eye diseases affect the peripheral (side) vision or increase a sensitivity to glare.
It’s important to have a complete eye exam with your ophthalmologist every year or two after age 65.
Keeping up with regular eye exams allows the ophthalmologist to catch problems early on. The sooner a problem is detected, the more likely it is that treatment will be successful.